Interesting Stories That You Missed – 2

Over the past few days i came across some interesting news/facts which deserves some limelight.

Fannie & Freddie Help Out
Government-backed mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) will help out struggling mortgage holders to avoid foreclosures. Fannie Mae has planned to give borrowers the option of refinancing out of adjustable loans especially for subprime lenders. Fannie Mae will also ease its credit requirements to allow more borrowers to qualify. Fannie Mae will also buy 40-year loans as well as 30-year loans in the secondary market, which will help reduce the monthly payment by about 5%. Freddie Mac will be putting 30- and 40-year subprime loans with reduced margins and longer fixed-rate periods into the market by the summer.

Anti-Trust Violation
Google (GOOG) recently acquired online ad network DoubleClick for $3.1 billion. This deal will put Google far ahead of the field in the $28.8 billion global online ad market and giving it the capability to provide advertisers with graphical display ads as well as text ads. Microsoft (MSFT) and AT&T (T) has raised concern over this deal. They are urging regulators to investigate the deal for antitrust violations. There are rumors that Seattle-based online ad company aQuantive Inc. (AQNT) is an acquisition target too.

GM Goes To Asia
General Motors’ (GM) commercial vehicle is forecast to increase sales by more than 20% this year and is expected to continue to lead the Chinese market’s minivan segment. GM is also reported to be in talks to manufacture cars in Indonesia. GM’s overall vehicle sales in China (second-largest car market in the world) rose 25% in Q1. In other news, GM is considering an increase in auto parts sourcing from India. GM is aiming for 10% of the rapidly growing Indian market by 2010.

ABN Amro Takeover
3 of the biggest banks The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBSPY), Spain’s Banco Santander Banespa Spa and Belgium’s Fortis has approached ABN Amro (ABN) about a possible takeover. ABN Amro is under pressure from active shareholders to go ahead with the takeover and breakup ABN’s retail and wholesale operations. Royal Bank would take over ABN’s U.S. retail bank, LaSalle, and ABN’s wholesale bank in London; while Santander would take ABN’s assets in Brazil and Italy and Fortis would acquire ABN’s Benelux assets.

Student Loan Provider Buyout
Student loan provider Sallie Mae has agreed to be acquired by two private equity firms and two investment banks for $25 billion. JC Flowers & Co. and Friedman Fleischer & Lowe will share a 50.2% stake in the company while J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) will each hold 24.9%. The group beat out the Blackstone Group, which considered making a $20 billion offer for Sallie Mae over the weekend. Sallie Mae was an attractive deal because student lending is growing and is generating strong cash flow.

Sony To Cut 160 Jobs

Sony Corp. (SNE) may eliminate up to 8% of its PlayStation unit in Europe in an effort to reduce costs. Sony sent e-mails to employees that restructuring measures, including possible job cuts, are needed to trim expenses. PlayStation losses would be bigger than expected because Nintendo’s Wii currently outsells PlayStation 3 two-to-one in Japan and the U.S.

Yahoo Down & Intel Up
Yahoo (YHOO) shares slid 11.8% to $28.31 after the company reported an 11% drop in Q1 profit. Q1 net income fell to $142 million from $159.9 million a year ago. Intel (INTC) shares rose 2% after the company announced profits rose 19% during the first quarter. Net income was $1.61 billion and EPS $0.27, up from $1.36 billion and EPS of $0.23 a year earlier.

Search Engine Market Share
Google remains ahead of Yahoo and MSN in U.S. search engine market share for the month of March. Google’s market share stands at 48.3%. Yahoo came in second with 27.5%, followed by MSN 10.9%, Ask Network 5.2% and Time Warner Network 5.0%. There were 7.3 billion internet searches in March, of whic Google had 3.5 billion searches.

Time Warner In India
Entertainment giant Time Warner is in talks with Indian real estate developers to set up a chain of multiplexes across India, but that talks are still at a nascent stage. Foreign entertainment players favor teaming with Indian realty companies, which helps them get prime locations in major cities.

Vonage = Bankruptcy
Vonage (VG) said the Verizon (VZ) patent suit could force the VOIP provider into bankruptcy. The lawsuit is filed since the company is found in violation of 3 Verizon VOIP patents. There are also rumors that Vonage (VG) has held talks about selling itself to Sprint Nextel (S).

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(Source: Seeking Alpha)